Monday, 11 June 2007

Stuff I have to buy so I don't have to buy stuff

Now that we are getting potatoes from the garden my thoughts naturally turn to storing and processing the bounty of produce to come. So of course I will make jams and chutneys and bottled fruits and tomatoes and store dried beans. I will freeze peas and green beans and fruits. I will dry walnuts and hazelnuts and chestnuts and make things with them that I have drooled over on the internet. There will be cider and homemade beer and wine.

All this marvellous food and drink for free!

No it bloody well isn’t.

For I shall have to buy big pans for making jams and chutneys even if I do without thermometers and funnels and tongs for lifting jars out of water and cherry stoners and apple corers and sieves, I shall have to buy jars. I shall have to buy storage tins for storing dried food. I shall have to buy a freezer to freeze food. I shall have to buy baking accoutrements like tins and rolling pins and pastry brushes and weighing scales. Brewing supplies like buckets and demi-johns and bottles and caps.

All this is before I start buying food to add to the food, things like sugar and vinegar, spices, flour, baking powder, yeast.

Admittedly much of the stuff is “an investment” and will be used many times. But it could all go horribly wrong and I will have all the possessions but no food. I could buy a lot of jars of jam, frozen peas, tins of tomatoes and sticky buns for that money all made by experts in their field, and have change for a recliner, parasol and a good book.

So at the end of the day I can’t produce food cheaper than I can buy it. All things considered. Unless I consider food miles, freshness, quality of life, job satisfaction and all the worthy green stuff, but I just wanted to moan about all the stuff that has to be bought so I won’t go into all that. I'd only be leaning on an open door or boring or both.


Imperatrix said...

In the US, there is the beauty of garage sales, tag sales, estate sales, and the like. You can pick up lots of the tools you mention, for pennies. In some places, there are even flea markets that have heaps and heaps of used kitchen equipment.

Is there no brocante or marche aux puces in your neck of France?

Good luck!

Karen said...

we have the depot-ventes which sell second hand stuff mainly furniture and there are also vide grenier (empty attic) sales and plenty of brocantes but I think due to the number of people coming over from the UK and picking up "country kitchen" items as interior decoration pieces the prices are way up on what they used to be when we first started coming to France.

Hedgewizard said...

Karen, there are some French types and British ex-pats on the forums of - why not ask them for links that might help you? There's going to be ways to get the stuff for free, or very cheaply PROVIDED YOU DON'T HAVE TO GET IT ALL RIGHT NOW.

Freecycle also runs in France, here's a starting page:

Michele said...

The beauty of it is next year you won't have as much investment, so the cost of your food will greatly decrease!

Debra in France said...

Believe me, there is nothing like going to the cellar and taking your own spuds froma sack to eat with your own veg from the freezer. To have your own jam on toast, to have your own apple sauce with sunday dinner. You could always go halves on a preserving pan (quite expensive I thought) with a neighbour.

P.S. Your potatoes were divine - thank you very much.

Karen said...

HW good idea I'll check out the various forums yes I do HAVE TO HAVE IT ALL NOW that's what I'm like but perhaps restraint would pay off

Michele I know but I'm not very good at the long view see above

Debra I'm going round the depot ventes cheapo shops etc today (not buying see HWs advice above) to price things up I'll let you know what I find.

Kitchen Witch said...

Hello! Well, my jam kettle thingy cost about £5 - it ain't fancy, but it doth the trick, and that's all I want. As for the wine-making, we use a large bucket, and we've never bothered with things like hydrometers - the basics are a length of tube, a large bucket (with something you can put over it), a demijohn, and a trap. It don't have to cost tons - we started making wine while I was full-time on a PhD, and as a result, we were skint. There is hope! :)

Oh, and jars? Just start collecting the ones you use, now, even though you may not need them now. And, as Michele said, next year it won't seem so painful!

Karen said...

Kitchen Witch I will just have to be more resourceful. The old lady next door cooks her cherry conserve in a big old metal pot outside in the garden on a bonfire. I will have to start charging her cooking lessons for eggs

Jen said...

I think it all sounds very marvellous indeed - just think how fab you'll feel when you see all your shiny jars and demi-johns lining up to attention!

Brewing wine by the bucket has GOT to be a winner, no?

Kitchen Witch said...

Well, I can thoroughly recommend cooking stews on a woodburner! ;) And for the booze, well, it takes time to get all the crap together that you find you want for sort of the ultimate set-up, but you can make shitloads of stuff with, er, the slightly crapulous set-up. :)

Karen said...

Jen Yes I can see all those in my mind's eye in the cellar. With some posing ones on display in the kitchen

Kitchen Witch Thanks for the encouragement I have bought the finest and cheapest large pan I can find and am now selecting food in the supermarket on the basis of what the jar is like. I'm sure I'll get over the must have everything perfect heebeejeebies(?) once I actually get started

Hedgewizard said...

Freecycle is the perfect medium for jars and demijohns. Post a "wanted" there. Last time I went out to a Freecycler's for demijohns I got 16 of them - more than I could comfortably get in the car - and another chap gave me 30 "Bonne Maman" jamjars which I love because they have wide necks.

Karen said...

wondering if my French is up to it but I can give it a go